Breaking the Silence

Website for the American Mental Health Counselors Association's Breaking the Silence initiative to address mental health stigma.

Human Trafficking

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By contributing blogger Suzanne Walker.

Would you take a moment and look up the phrase human trafficking on the internet? Don’t be afraid. I promise you the FBI won’t show up at your door and ask any questions.

I’m proud of you. Before we go any farther, you need to brace yourself. Human trafficking is not just ugly. It is capital lettered UGLY. Many people prefer to turn their heads and ignore the ugly part of life.

A quick search on MyVocabulary.com will yield 235 different words to describe and explain human trafficking. While you’re on the internet, carefully consider this. Most victims are specifically targeted for human trafficking purposes by advertisements, traps and lures by human traffickers on the internet.

The Polaris Project says that human trafficking is “a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 20.9 million people around the world.” (https://polarisproject.org/human-trafficking) I know many of you know all about the boogey man and the dangers of the internet. Many think about protecting their privacy settings on Facebook. There is more sinister side of the wonderful world wide web. It’s called the Dark Net. The Dark Net is a part of the internet that is  hidden from normal search engines like Google. It is a major epicenter for illegal activity, such as human and drug trafficking.

 

Why does Human Trafficking Exist?

The Human Trafficking Hotline (http://www.humantraffickinghotline.org) says that “human trafficking is fueled by a demand for cheap labor, services, and for commercial sex.” According to Michelle Collins, the Vice President of Exploited Children Division and Assistant to the President of National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, 22 million photos and videos involving child pornography were submitted to the Child Victim Identification Program in 2011 (Testimony: http://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/amendment-process/public-hearings-and-meetings/20120215-16/Testimony_15_Collins.pdf). Sex and labor trafficking of U.S. citizens and foreign nationals continues to thrive for a number of reasons:

  1. There is low risk to human traffickers who face little risk or deterrence to impact their criminal operations. While law enforcement and criminal justice have increased surveillance and investigations, human traffickers see a high profit margin well-worth the low risk. Other factors complicating the problem: lack of government and law enforcement training, limited public awareness, inefficient laws and enforcement, & very limited resources for victim recovery services, and social blaming of victims.
  2. Human trafficking yields BIG profit. Purchasing commercial sex helps build a market.
    1. Over a two-year time frame, human traffickers spent about $250 million to post more than 60 million advertisements.
    2. There are more visits to adult porn sites than visits to Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined (yes, kinda like 1+1+1=3).
    3. Pre-teens mimicking those fabulous celebs by posting nearly nude selfies is not helping; that is another yet blog about how we and our society teach our daughters to value themselves for their physical attributes.
    4. The average age for exposure to internet pornography is 12 years old.

Victims of human trafficking often face major obstacles to leave their situation. They can be physically prevented from leaving and held hostage. Other times, they are psychologically trapped. Learn more: Understanding Victim Mindsets

 

What can I do? How can I help?

  1. Know where your money goes. Don’t purchase anything from any industry or business that uses forced or exploitative labor.
  2. Stand for what is right. Help halt and eradicate pornography & sex businesses.
  3. Be there for the victims. Learn more by clicking on these sites:
    1. Human Trafficking & Trauma Informed Screenings
    2. Promising Practices for Trauma-Informed Therapeutic Support for Survivors of Human Trafficking
    3. Human Trafficking Awareness for Mental Health Professionals

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